When Escape Room Pittsburgh started building out their second location, they ran into a 20,000-pound problem, or opportunity, as co-owner Joe Deasy puts it. The new space in Homestead, which used to be an old bank, has a vault taking up a significant portion of area on the first floor.
“We knew we had this bank vault, there was no way we could lose it. The vault door, we heard, weighs between 10 and 20,000 pounds. So we had this fixture in the room that we can’t move,” Deasy says. “So then you kind of start working backward from there.”
It wasn’t hard for the Escape Room team to make the next logical jump. If participants are meant to escape something, what better than an actual bank vault? Drawing from its historic location just over the train tracks from the smokestacks at the Waterfront, the team at Escape Room decided to pay homage to the titan of steel, Andrew Carnegie.
Voila! “Carnegie’s Millions” was born.
When Escape Room first moved into the Homestead location, the vault was actually drywalled over. It took a little muscle to confirm the vault was even still there, explains Deasy. During an early tour of the space when the real estate agent stepped out of the room, “I kicked a little bit of the drywall in and saw that I was in a vault,” admits Deasy. “I was able to peek my head in and see the vault door. With that, we bought the building, started expanding.”
It had been years since the space was used as a bank. But, the vault was too perfect not to use, Deasy says. “The vault is so unique to the location. It has a story that most escape rooms don’t.”
In Carnegie’s Millions, participants are locked in the room and have an hour to decipher clues, unlock puzzles, and find Carnegie’s diamonds before breaking out. The experience includes the old bank vault, as well as a reproduction of Carnegie’s study. “We found a picture of his study, his office on a historical site, and we replicated that. If I were to show you the picture of what we designed it from, you’d be like, ‘Man, you guys have too much time on your hands.’” Deasy jokes.
But it just goes to show how meticulous the team behind Escape Room is. Bank dials original to the vault play a part in a puzzle in Carnegie’s Millions. With Deasy’s background in engineering, it should be no surprise that the effects in the room are practical, with the players’ actions actually triggering the events inside the room. Secret passageways swing open when a participant solves a puzzle, or lighting changes when objects are moved and rearranged. The experience will have players feel like they have the starring role in a classic heist flick.
Interested in making an escape to Homestead? Carnegie’s Millions is just one of three interactive experiences Escape Room offers at its second location. The first Escape Room in Greenfield offers two additional escape rooms.
Escape Room Pittsburgh was born out of a trip to Europe, where Deasy and his cousins became hooked on escape rooms and decided to open one in Pittsburgh. Escape Room’s first location in Greenfield opened in 2017 and “it did really well. It was booked months in advance,” says Deasy. That led the team to their second location in Homestead and Carnegie’s Millions.
Carnegie’s Millions is recommended for groups of up to 10 and is Escape Room’s most challenging experience. “It’s definitely our hardest room that we have. Just because it requires attention to detail that some people forget about,” Deasy reasons. “The puzzles are all multistep puzzles.”
Hoping to make a successful escape? Bring a diverse team of strong communicators, explains Deasy. “They are talking about what they find; [they] are talking about what they work on. Teams that do not do well find things, put them in their pocket and don’t tell their teammates.” Varied backgrounds and ages can help too. “Even younger kids, they’re good for exploring in a room because there’s stuff hidden throughout the whole rooms, you know, in the wall or up high, and they’re usually the ones to find it.”
69 Greenfield Ave. Floor 1
Pittsburgh, PA 15207
145 E 8th Ave.
Homestead, PA 15120
Hours Mon-Thu: 5pm-10pm // Fri: 4pm-10pm // Sat-Sun: 12pm- 11pm
More Info: Escape Room Pittsburgh